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      Effects of Climate Change on Ticks and Tick-Borne Diseases in Europe

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          Zoonotic tick-borne diseases are an increasing health burden in Europe and there is speculation that this is partly due to climate change affecting vector biology and disease transmission. Data on the vector tick Ixodes ricinus suggest that an extension of its northern and altitude range has been accompanied by an increased prevalence of tick-borne encephalitis. Climate change may also be partly responsible for the change in distribution of Dermacentor reticulatus. Increased winter activity of I. ricinus is probably due to warmer winters and a retrospective study suggests that hotter summers will change the dynamics and pattern of seasonal activity, resulting in the bulk of the tick population becoming active in the latter part of the year. Climate suitability models predict that eight important tick species are likely to establish more northern permanent populations in a climate-warming scenario. However, the complex ecology and epidemiology of such tick-borne diseases as Lyme borreliosis and tick-borne encephalitis make it difficult to implicate climate change as the main cause of their increasing prevalence. Climate change models are required that take account of the dynamic biological processes involved in vector abundance and pathogen transmission in order to predict future tick-borne disease scenarios.

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          Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever

          Summary Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF) is an often fatal viral infection described in about 30 countries, and it has the most extensive geographic distribution of the medically important tickborne viral diseases, closely approximating the known global distribution of Hyalomma spp ticks. Human beings become infected through tick bites, by crushing infected ticks, after contact with a patient with CCHF during the acute phase of infection, or by contact with blood or tissues from viraemic livestock. Clinical features commonly show a dramatic progression characterised by haemorrhage, myalgia, and fever. The levels of liver enzymes, creatinine phosphokinase, and lactate dehydrogenase are raised, and bleeding markers are prolonged. Infection of the endothelium has a major pathogenic role. Besides direct infection of the endothelium, indirect damage by viral factors or virus-mediated host-derived soluble factors that cause endothelial activations and dysfunction are thought to occur. In diagnosis, enzyme-linked immunoassay and real-time reverse transcriptase PCR are used. Early diagnosis is critical for patient therapy and prevention of potential nosocomial infections. Supportive therapy is the most essential part of case management. Recent studies suggest that ribavirin is effective against CCHF, although definitive studies are not available. Health-care workers have a serious risk of infection, particularly during care of patients with haemorrhages from the nose, mouth, gums, vagina, and injection sites. Simple barrier precautions have been reported to be effective.
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            Evaluating the ability of habitat suitability models to predict species presences

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              Quorum-sensing inhibitors as anti-pathogenic drugs.

              Quorum-sensing (QS) signalling systems of pathogens are central regulators for the expression of virulence factors and represent highly attractive targets for the development of novel therapeutics. In Pseudomonas aeruginosa, QS systems are also involved in elevated antibiotic tolerance of biofilms as well as elevated tolerance to the activity of the innate immune system. Gram-negative bacteria commonly use N-acyl homoserine lactones (AHL) as QS signal molecules. The use of signal molecule based drugs to attenuate bacterial pathogenecity rather than bacterial growth is attractive for several reasons, particularly considering the emergence of increasingly antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Compounds capable of this type of interference have been termed anti-pathogenic drugs. A large variety of synthetic AHL analogues and natural products libraries have been screened and a number of QS inhibitors (QSI) have been identified. Promising QSI compounds have been shown to make biofilms more susceptible to antimicrobial treatments, and are capable of reducing mortality and virulence as well as promoting clearance of bacteria in experimental animal models of infection.

                Author and article information

                Interdiscip Perspect Infect Dis
                Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Infectious Diseases
                Hindawi Publishing Corporation
                4 January 2009
                : 2009
                1School of Biology and Environmental Science, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
                2IS Insect Services GmbH, Haderslebener Straße 9, 12163 Berlin, Germany
                3Department of Parasitology, Veterinary Faculty, University of Zaragoza, Miguel Servet 177, 50013 Zaragoza, Spain
                4Applied Zoology/Animal Ecology, Institute of Biology, Free University of Berlin, 12163 Berlin, Germany
                5Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
                Author notes

                Recommended by Bettina Fries

                Copyright © 2009 J. S. Gray et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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                Infectious disease & Microbiology


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